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Firewater

by Tomasz Różycki

translated from the Polish by Mira Rosenthal


When I first started writing, no one told me
that it was a sickness, that my friends and family
would have to look after me, and that the women
whom I touch with this pen would later visit me

in the clinical ward. That I would be assigned
to a detox center. That sadly I would fake
improvement, pretend in front of the children
and the director that I’m healthy. That I would hide

in the kitchen at night and do it, write surrounded
by all the little monsters, kitchen demons,
phantoms and paranoias, hallucinations, obsessions—
write with trembling hands. After all, no one said

how shameful it is and how stupid you must be
to let affairs in a dream infect you.

 

Tomasz Różycki is a contemporary Polish poet. He is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Colonies, and the book-length poem Twelve Stations, winner of the Kościelski Prize. His work has been translated into numerous European languages, and The Forgotten Keys: Selected Poetry of Tomasz Różycki (translated by Mira Rosenthal) has just been published by Zephyr Press. He has received the Krzysztof Kamiel Baczyński Prize, the Joseph Brodski Prize from Zeszyty Literackie, and has been nominated twice for the Nike Prize, Poland’s most important literary award. He lives in his native city Opole with his wife and two children.

Mira Rosenthal is a poet and translator. Her work has appeared recently in Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, Seneca Review, Notre Dame Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Harpur Palate, PRISM, and elsewhere . Her awards include a Fulbright Fellowship and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Banff Centre. (8/2007)


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